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Vacation rental marketing and The 100% Rating System


I have read all sorts of things regarding the vacation rental market, I have read various stories covering just about everything from boom to bust.
The thing to bear in mind is that whether 2012 turns out to be a boom year, a bust year or, more likely, somewhere in between, vacation rental owners, like yourself, are in a position to influence that outcome, on a personal level, much more than they realise.
The key word to focus on here is influence.
Your vacation rental marketing material, your photographs, your presentation, your description, and your pricing, all influence web visitors as to whether they select your rental property over others they view.

So I was thinking about quantifying that influence and, of course, I was focusing on the photographic and presentation aspects of this influence as web visitors make all of their initial decisions based solely on what they see.

This is what I came up with and I’m sure it can really help with your vacation rental marketing, as it quantifies that influence and it’s really simple to calculate.

Firstly, The Facts

You may or may not know that the more photos that you show of your property and any surrounding attractions, the more page views you will get.

That’s a FACT!
There have been a number of studies that back this up.

More page views = more enquiries = more bookings.
That’s another FACT!

In a nutshell, photos convey information and the more photos that you show web visitors, the more informed they become – and informed visitors are FAR more likely to book.
That’s yet another FACT!

The 15 – 20 Rule

I have been encouraging owners to show somewhere between 15 to 20 photos in their online portfolio for years now, and I don’t think there is an upper limit as how many images you display, so long as you avoid repetition.

The 100% Rating System

Anyway, for arguments sake, let’s say that the optimum number of images to show is 20.
And let’s say that we judge each photo on its quality by awarding points for each.
Each photo can be awarded between 1 and 5 points.
A really great, as good as it gets, photo scores 5 points, where as a very poor photo only scores 1 point and a reasonable image scores 3.

Here are a few examples.

vacation rental marketing photography

Great photo - 5 points


vacation rental marketing photography

Reasonable photo - 3 points


vacation rental marketing photography

Very poor photo - 1 point

So if you have 20 images in your online portfolio and they are all fantastic you score 100.
You have optimised your photographic marketing material 100%.
Hence the 100% rating system.
People would be falling over themselves to book a holiday at your property.

Now, being realistic I don’t think that it’s easy to score 100 points. The idea here is to quantify a score and to aim to improve on that score, especially if it is on the low to medium side.

Let’s imagine that you have 20 images and that 15 are reasonable and 5 are really good – That’s a score of 70 and in my opinion that is a pretty good score (with a few exceptions of exceptional properties).
If you are only showing 6 reasonable photos of your holiday home you would score 18 and you have lots of room for improvement.
All owners that are serious about marketing their property should be aiming for a score of at least 45 to 50.
20 reasonable photos alone is a score of 60 points, so that really is not that difficult to achieve.
Pretty simple, More points = More bookings.

Points Guide.

5 points – Great photo
4 points – Good photo
3 points – Reasonable photo
2 points – Below average photo
1 Point. – Very poor photo

Any exterior photos with white or grey skies score no more than 2 points
Any exterior photos shown with doors or windows closed score maximum 3 points
Any interior photos shown without the lights on score no more than 2 points

So, without further ado, grab a pencil and paper and jump straight over to wherever you advertise your vacation rental, be it a VR listings site or your own personal property website and award points for each photo.
Don’t think about each score for too long, use your initial judgement. Be honest, don’t kid yourself. Jot down the scores as you go.

Come back to this page when you are done.

Okay, what did you score?
Did you really take the test?

The takeaway for vacation rental owners

The Take Away

If you scored any photos with 1 or 2 points then ask yourself – “Why you are showing images that you yourself rate as very poor or below average?”

How many pictures did you score at 3 points? Ask yourself – “Why settle for reasonable photos when, with a little effort, you can produce good, even great, photographs?”

If you scored less than 45 points then you really need to address matters and either add more photos to your collection and/or improve on the images that you are showing.

It’s Presentation, Presentation, Presentation and smart owners are raising the bar.

As I mentioned in a previous post, “Vacation rental marketing is like most things in life, the more effort that you put into it, the more you get out of it.”

If you want or need more bookings in 2012 then only you can influence those viewing your property online and only you can influence the number of bookings resulting from those viewings.

Where to from here?

Boosting your score, your influence and your bookings

I have written a number of guides that teach, in an easy to follow, pictorial way, how to improve the quality of your online portfolio.

Vacation rental marketing makeover guideThe first of these is THE MARKETING MAKEOVER GUIDE and this 35 page guide covers how to make and take better photos. It’s packed with common sense advice, reveals professional tricks of the trade, shows real life makeover examples and comes with easy to follow check-lists.
All in all, it’s a great place to start on the road to more bookings.

Vacation rental marketing - creating a portfolioThose that purchase The Marketing Makeover Guide also receive, free of charge, our CREATING A PORTFOLIO GUIDE as a bonus and this guide looks at how to build a portfolio of 15 to 20 images, even if you only own a one bedroom apartment. Once again this guide comes with lots of examples and easy to follow check-lists.

I hope that you found this article useful.
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